Although he got his start creating paintings and sculptures, Tate’s fascination with nature led him to start making videos of the land.
This exhibition brings his art practice full circle, combining Tate’s recent movies with new sculptures, along with a re-mixed soundtrack of the earth’s magnetosphere.
Organized by AGSC with Curator Kim Houghtaling, ‘Kent Tate: Movies for a Pulsing Earth’ allows viewers to explore places both far and near, real or imagined.
“It really is an overview of some of the issues and imagining that have concerned me throughout my career as an artist,” Tate noted. “The themes that I have explored are nature, and our relationship to nature, and somehow trying to find out what our role is in this universe.”
Tate connects that role with participation — paying attention, engaging, making discoveries.
He feels too often, people live their lives on auto-pilot, and fail to truly experience the other people and things around them.
For Tate, those moments of realization have occurred in natural places, which is a theme throughout the exhibition.
He has a special connection to the Ravenscrag Formation, just west of Eastend. The location is only 25 minutes from his home, and he spends as much time as possible day dreaming there and enjoying the view in this quiet place.
This is the only piece of unedited video Tate presents in the exhibition.
“I wanted to evoke the feeling of being able to sit and watch it all day, so I made a very accurate reenactment of my experience there,” explained Tate. “I didn’t do that anywhere else, but I did it specifically for that location.”
The other video segments are carefully edited to create a precise rhythm to draw the viewer into the experience and engage them while they are there. The pace is comfortable, so nothing becomes boring or overwhelming.
With nine monitors all showing different footage simultaneously, Tate wanted to ensure the experience remained a relaxed one.
“I put a lot of my energy into the editing process,” Tate admitted. “It takes me forever, but I put a lot of thought and care into it. I want people to have an experience that has a sense of magic to it.”
Tate hopes viewers will be temporarily transported to the places he has filmed, and will think or feel things they hadn’t previously experienced. He wants the experience to spark a conversation, and allow viewers to leave the room feeling refreshed, or invigorated, or inspired.
In addition to the sculptures and videos, the exhibition features another unique element. The soundtrack, which plays softly from each television monitor, is re-mixed NASA satellite recordings of the interaction of the solar wind with the Earth’s magnetosphere.
This releases charged ionic particles within a vibration frequency in an audible range of 20-20,000 Hz.
“On a very hot day or a very cold day if the air is especially still, I sometimes wonder if I’m not hearing the sounds of the pulsing earth myself,” Tate noted.
“We spent days working on the soundtrack, and although initially it was a little spooky, the more we listened to it, it became a very comforting sound. I think it’s something the body wants to resist a little, but it’s something that we hear all the time, just without hearing it.”
Tate, who is also an accomplished musician, thought about creating a soundtrack for the exhibition as he has for DVDs he has released.
However, he wanted the exhibition to be more about his artistic thinking, and not about himself as an artist.
“The soundtrack I chose is a part of everybody, which is a theme I try to portray in all of my work,” he said. “I’m not going to exotic places. They are close by, national parks, and things I saw on my travels to specific locations. I don’t show a single thing that anyone else wouldn’t have access to.”
‘Kent Tate: Movies for a Pulsing Earth’ will be at Art Gallery of Swift Current until April 29.
A Coffeehouse Evening will be held on March 23, featuring a walk and talk tour of the exhibition with Kent Tate, hors d’oeuvres, a cash bar, and music by Dave Cyca and Mark Penner.
The event takes place at the gallery at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $5.